On September 23, 1641, an English merchant ship the Merchant Royal was returning home laden with an estimated 100,000 pounds of gold from Mexico. As the ship neared Land’s End in Cornwall, the weather rapidly degraded and the Merchant Royal began taking on water. Shortly after this, the ship went down killing 18 of the crew with the captain and most of the rest of the crew escaping in lifeboats. The 100,000 pounds of gold would have been worth close to $1.5 billion in 21st century currency.
In 2007, the Odyssey Marine Exploration company found a massive treasure trove off of Land’s End during a project code named “Black Swan.” It has been speculated that they had finally found the Merchant Royal, though there is no proof of this. Odyssey, however, thinks they found another shipwreck, the Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes from Spain. Despite claiming the treasure was found in international waters, and was thus, open for salvage, a court in the United States required Odyssey to turn the gold back over to Spain.